Philippines resumes mass polio immunisation

MANILA • The Philippines' Department of Health yesterday resumed its mass polio immunisation campaign to stem the spread of the infectious disease in the country.

The department said mass polio immunisation rounds for children aged under five in the Mindanao region in southern Philippines and several regions in the main island of Luzon will run until Aug 2.

The Philippines launched a comprehensive polio outbreak response, including mass polio immunisation rounds, after the disease re-emerged in the country last September after nearly two decades.

The department said its health workers were ready to go around communities to administer the vaccination, and that the teams had been given "online orientations" to prepare them for the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque stressed the need to continue the campaign to eradicate polio despite the coronavirus epidemic plaguing the country.

"Continuous implementation of polio response amid the present health crisis is important as this will prevent not only the debilitating effects of the disease, but also interrupt the transmission during a pandemic," he said.

"It is imperative for parents and caregivers to have their children vaccinated, while strictly adhering to infection prevention and control protocols, as we cannot afford to overwhelm our health system with another outbreak."

The World Health Organisation and the United Nations children's fund Unicef are providing technical support for the campaign, the health department said.

Polio is a highly infectious disease that can cause paralysis or even be fatal. It is spread when the stool of an infected person is introduced into the mouth of another person through contaminated water or food.

While there is no cure for polio, it can be prevented with multiple doses of vaccines that have long been proven safe and effective.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 21, 2020, with the headline Philippines resumes mass polio immunisation. Subscribe